Forty-three thousand souls. You might wonder if anyone named Dan was involved in its naming.

No. Well, it's complicated.

Wikipedia relates the origin story:

In 1728, English colonist William Byrd headed an expedition sent to determine the true boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. One night late that summer, the party camped upstream from what is now Danville, Byrd was so taken with the beauty of the land, that he prophesied a future settlement in the vicinity, where people would live "with much comfort and gaiety of Heart."

The river along which he camped was named the "Dan", for Byrd, supposing himself to be in the land of plenty, felt he had wandered "from Dan to Beersheba."

Elsewhere, Wikipedia says:

The name of the river was first recorded by William Byrd II in 1728, during an expedition to survey the Virginia border, though Byrd did not explain the reason for the name.

So, whatever. From some positions, it looks unchanged - except, of course, for the utter absence of people or industry.



Are you getting a five-and-time chain vibe from the building on the corner?



Any idea what it was? Another view reveals the rest of the story:


In thousands of small towns across the country stand empty embassies for a country that went out of business.



As for the structure across the street: Woah. That's a nicely scrubbed old classical file-drawer-style office tower.



"Danville's Finest Offices" says one history site; possibly still the case. It's ten stories tall and looks to be in excellent shape.

Plus, bunting!

Before the war, and after.


So much depends upon a red fire hydrant.



It wouldn't be an ordinary town without the brutal, ugly, dominating modern bank.



"We'll add planters to humanize it."

(architect fumes in silence, because the client JUST DOESN'T GET IT)

And what might this be?



Right: an Elks lodge. Two clocks for guaranteed accuracy!








"Who was that man?"

"I don't know, but that was the smoothest-talking stone vase salesman I ever met."


This I love.



Their website says: "There are plenty of interesting places to shop and eat in the River District, formerly Downtown Danville and the Tobacco Warehouse District, all bordered by Dan River. "

Formerly Downtown Danville?


Of course it's a bank. Nice sunlight anti-penetration feature in that window design.


Why were so many banks in medium-sized towns so ugly? Why did they go from a uniform, reassuring classic style to blunt, overblown, turgid concrete crap-boxes?



Nice little redesign. You can tell the bottom floor was done over in the 50s, although the name could hail from 10 or 20 years before.






It was antristin'. Lots of things went pretty well.

Repainted? Probably. Who cares?


It's an interesting place, with more to see. Here's a challenge: on Pinterest I found this picture named "1911 Cigarette Girl Danville VA."

Can you find its location today?


I can't. Here's a place to start. The town has a 3d map, and it's fun to fly around.